Middle East and Central Asia > Lebanon

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Mr. Juan S Corrales and Patrick A. Imam
Using a newly complied and extended database from International Financial Statistics, and applying different panel-regression techniques, this paper documents the evolution of households’ and firms’ dollarization over the past decade. We assess the macroeconomic determinants of dollarization for households and firms and explore differences between high and low-income countries. We find that households’ and firms’ dollarization in loans and deposits are weakly explained by the currency substitution model, except in low income countries, where inflation plays a significant role. Instead, market development variables such as financial deepening, access to external debt and FX finance as well as other market considerations are key to explain the dynamics of deposits and loans dollarization, regardless of the level of income.These factors can account for a significant fraction of the dollarization, but using a variance decomposition model, there is evidence that a non-negligible portion has yet to be explained. This suggests that there are key determinants for household and firm dollarization that are not fully captured by traditional macroeconomic explanatory variables.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that Lebanon’s economic growth remains subdued. Following a sharp drop in 2011, growth edged upward briefly to 2–3 percent, but has now slowed again. The IMF staff estimates that GDP increased by 1 percent in 2015, and a similar growth rate in 2016 is projected. Lebanon’s traditional growth drivers—tourism, real estate, and construction—have received a significant blow and a strong rebound is unlikely based on current trends. In the absence of a turnaround in confidence, or a resolution of the Syrian conflict, growth is unlikely to return to potential (4 percent) soon.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
In the June 2016 issue of IMF Research Bulletin, Eugenio Cerutti interviews Lars E.O. Svensson. Lars, a professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, was a Visiting Scholar at the IMF. In the interview, he discusses monetary policy, financial stability, and life at the IMF. The Bulletin also features a listing of recent Working Papers, Staff Discussion Notes, and key IMF publications. The table of contents from the latest issue of IMF Economic Review is also included.
Miss Randa Sab
Using narrative-based country-case studies, war episodes in the Middle East were examined to assess their economic impact on conflict and neighboring economies. The paper found that conflicts led to a contraction in growth, higher inflation, large fiscal and current account deficits, loss of reserves, and a weakened financial system. Post-conflict recovery depended on the economic and institutional development of the country, economic structure, duration of the war, international engagement, and prevailing security conditions. The net economic impact on neighboring countries varied according to their initial economic conditions, number and income level of refugees they hosted, economic integration, and external assistance.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The global crisis is now affecting the countries in the Middle East and Central Asia region, and economic and financial vulnerabilities are rising. In the Middle East and North Africa, good economic fundamentals, appropriate policy responses, and sizable currency reserves are helping mitigate the impact of the shock. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, lower commodity prices and adverse economic developments in Russia have hit hard. The report notes that countries should prepare for the contingency of a prolonged global slowdown by supporting domestic demand for a longer period and strengthening financial systems further. In some countries with rising unemployment, it will be important to target government resources and policies on protecting the poor; in others, increased donor support will be necessary to maintain needed economic development.

International Monetary Fund
The economic performance of Lebanon was significantly better despite difficult political conditions under the Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance (EPCA). With lackluster growth and fiscal tightness, the external current account deficit needs to be improved. There is limited scope for fiscal policy actions. The government faces substantial gross financing needs and remains vulnerable to changes in regional liquidity and demand. Increased inflation could worsen the fiscal outlook. In view of this, the authorities have expressed interest in continued quarterly monitoring of Lebanon’s economic policies and performance by the IMF.
International Monetary Fund
This 2007 Article IV Consultation highlights that economic developments in Lebanon in 2006 were significantly affected by the July–August conflict with Israel. Real GDP is estimated to have been flat, with strong growth in the first half of the year offset by the disruptions during and after the conflict. Inflation increased, mainly reflecting supply shortages during the conflict and the ensuing blockade. Executive Directors have welcomed the authorities’ success in containing the primary fiscal deficit in the first half of 2007.
International Monetary Fund
Lebanon recovered from the financial shock triggered by Prime Minister Hariri’s assassination. Executive Directors supported the strategy of debt reduction through sustained fiscal adjustment. They welcomed the proactive stance of banking sector supervision and encouraged adoption of a strong securities regulator with adequate legal protection to enhance the stability of the stock market. They stressed the need to strengthen the environment for private sector activity by reducing red tape and corruption, reactivating the liberalization and privatization of the telecom sector, strengthening contract enforcement, and accelerating structural reforms.
Mr. Jorge Cayazzo, Mrs. Socorro Heysen, and Miss Eva Gutierrez
The paper presents a supervisory framework that addresses the vulnerabilities of partially dollarized banking systems. The tendency to underprice systemic liquidity risk and currency-induced credit risk creates vulnerabilities that need supervisory responses. The framework seeks to induce agents to better internalize risks by implementing a risk based approach to supervision, following the risk management guidelines of the Basel Committee, and by establishing buffers to cover higher liquidity and solvency risks. The paper also shows that most dollarized countries have addressed their liquidity vulnerabilities, but few have addressed those arising from currency-induced credit risks.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

The second Annual Report of the IEO summarizes the findings and recommendations of two completed evaluation projects: on the IMF’s experience with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility and the role of the IMF in Argentina, 1991-2001. It also discusses the status of ongoing evaluations, and identifies potential candidates for the menu from which future IEO work programs will be chosen.